Gun Stock Carving: Walnut Stock Carved with a Wildlife Scene, Wild Tom Turkey Courting a Mate

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Project by Mark A. DeCou posted 08-05-2009 06:07 PM 17813 views 1 time favorited 21 comments Add to Favorites Watch

This was a commissioned project.

This gun was part of a set of three that I did for a family in Wichita, Kansas

  1. You can see the Pheasant Carving by clicking here
  2. You can see the Tom Turkey Carving by clicking here
  3. You can see the Quail Carving by clicking here

If you have a gunstock that you would like to have personalized with a carving, send me an email to discuss the project.



Project Story:

This is a Remington 870 12ga Shotgun, with an original factory walnut stock that I custom carved.

An old friend of mine from my Wichita, Kansas days has a son being deployed in the military this month, and he had the idea of giving the son a custom carved gun stock as a gift before his deployment. He’s been pretty nervous all summer that I wouldn’t have it finished in time, and my encouragements that I would were still hard to believe I guess. So, I’m doubly happy to have this gunstock finished and reassembled 4 days before my deadline. That doesn’t always happen, guess that’s why he was so concerned in his emails.

Since the gun was in “used” condition when I recieved it for the carving work, the finish on the stock and forearm grip were in really poor shape. So, I resanded both sections and refinished them while I had them in my shop.

The artwork on this gunstock is my own original drawing, although based somewhat on a carving plan I found at

My old friend has three sons, and the other two sons will also get a carved gun soon, as soon as I have them finished. The second gun will have a Quail in flight, and the third gun will be a Pheasant in Flight.

Here is the posting of the Carved Bobwhite Quail in Flight

I have never carved a Puffed-up Tom Turkey before, and really never looked at one very closely before this project. They are a hard animal to carve in low-relief style, at least for me it was hard. The depth of the carving is controlled by the mounting bolt hardware hole inside the gun stock, so I was very careful not to cut too deeply. This does however, present a challenge since there isn’t much room to gather shadows and detail to give the carving some 3-D depth. The total background depth is a hair over 0.12” deep.

The finish I applied started with Watco’s Danish Oil, which is an oil/varnish mix. After applying several wiped coats of the Danish Oil over several days, I moved onto Wipe-On Polyurethane. After a few coats of the Wipe-On Poly, I added several coats of sprayed Satin Polyurethane to smooth out the finish. I’m pretty happy with the overall finish at this point, and it should be dependable in the field when this gun is used, even in rain or snow.

thanks for reading,
Mark DeCou

(Note: All photos, project design, artwork, carving patter, and text is protected by copyright 2009 by the author M.A. DeCou, all rights reserved, no unauthorized use of this material in whole, or part is allowed without expressed written permission.)

-- Mark DeCou - American Contemporary Craft Artisan -

21 comments so far

View mmh's profile


3647 posts in 2760 days

#1 posted 08-05-2009 06:10 PM

Beautifully done! My best to your friend’s son for a safe deployment and return home.

-- "They who dream by day are cognizant of many things which escape those who dream only by night." ~ Edgar Allan Poe

View CharlieM1958's profile


16097 posts in 3257 days

#2 posted 08-05-2009 06:49 PM

Fantastic job, Mark. That carving is just gorgeous!

(I don’t think it would be very comfortable for a left-handed shooter like me, though.) :-)

-- Charlie M. "Woodworking - patience = firewood"

View Mark A. DeCou's profile

Mark A. DeCou

2005 posts in 3444 days

#3 posted 08-05-2009 06:51 PM

Nope Charlie, it’s for a right hander. I suppose with a nice furry beard, a Lefty could shoot it.


-- Mark DeCou - American Contemporary Craft Artisan -

View Dick, & Barb Cain's profile

Dick, & Barb Cain

8693 posts in 3338 days

#4 posted 08-05-2009 06:52 PM

Very nice Mark!
Those birds bring back memories of my Grandma’s Turkeys.

-- -** You are never to old to set another goal or to dream a new dream ****************** Dick, & Barb Cain, Hibbing, MN.

View mtnwild's profile


3474 posts in 2565 days

#5 posted 08-05-2009 06:55 PM

Love it all! Especially the way you framed the turkeys.
Another cool story, hope all come home safe and well.
Thanks for sharing…..................

-- mtnwild (Jack), It's not what you see, it's how you see it.

View grizzman's profile


7618 posts in 2342 days

#6 posted 08-05-2009 07:02 PM

that will surly give his son a smile before he goes…and the special gift from his dad will strengthen there relationship..great job mark….look forward to the others

-- GRIZZMAN ...[''''']

View Minuteman's profile


58 posts in 2414 days

#7 posted 08-05-2009 07:09 PM

That is a great job of artistry and carving! Congratulations!!

-- Major Walt Timoschuk,III

View Dennis Zongker's profile

Dennis Zongker

2515 posts in 2630 days

#8 posted 08-05-2009 07:10 PM

Excellent carving detail!!! Great job, Mark.

-- Dennis Zongker

View Kindlingmaker's profile


2655 posts in 2565 days

#9 posted 08-05-2009 07:13 PM

Fantastic art work!

-- Never board, always knotty, lots of growth rings

View Mark A. DeCou's profile

Mark A. DeCou

2005 posts in 3444 days

#10 posted 08-05-2009 08:14 PM

thanks folks, I’m hoping to have a long list of carved gun stocks when I’m done with this all here, or it’s done with me.


-- Mark DeCou - American Contemporary Craft Artisan -

View littlecope's profile


3015 posts in 2540 days

#11 posted 08-05-2009 08:24 PM

I’m getting bruises on my chin from my jaw dropping after viewing many people’s projects here, but this is yet another level entirely! Unbelievable!! Super Job, Mark!!

-- Mike in Concord, NH---Unpleasant tasks are simply worthy challenges to improve skills.

View SnowyRiver's profile


51451 posts in 2519 days

#12 posted 08-05-2009 08:29 PM

Thats gorgeous. Very nice job.

-- Wayne - Plymouth MN

View grizzman's profile


7618 posts in 2342 days

#13 posted 08-05-2009 08:37 PM

what does the “or its done with me ” comment mean?

-- GRIZZMAN ...[''''']

View Mark A. DeCou's profile

Mark A. DeCou

2005 posts in 3444 days

#14 posted 08-05-2009 09:11 PM

Hey Grizz, just trying to say that when this world is done with me, I’m happily out of here and onto much greener pastures and bigger projects.


-- Mark DeCou - American Contemporary Craft Artisan -

View Christopher's profile


573 posts in 2958 days

#15 posted 08-05-2009 10:41 PM

Beautiful work Mark. Up here in South Dakota, the pheasant capitol of the world, you could carve gunstocks full time and you still wouldn’t have enough time to get them all done!

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